Three Shanties for Wind Quintet
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Malcolm Arnold, (1921-       ), Three Shanties for Wind Quintet.

Born in 1921, English composer Sir Malcolm Arnold is one of the most significant composers of our time. His output shows a versatility never before seen; he has composed symphonies, concerti, chamber music, stage works, devertimenti, choral music, song cycles, music for wind and brass bands, as well as over a hundred film and television scores, including Bridge on the River Kwai, for which he won an Oscar.  Arnold studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London and later performed as principal trumpet in the London Symphony Orchestra. In 1948, he won the Mendelssohn Scholarship and left the orchestra to spend a year in Italy. On his return, he quickly built up a reputation as a fluent and versatile composer and a brilliant orchestrator. Arnold’s Three Shanties were written in 1943 and were based off of three folk songs: The Drunken Sailor, Bonny was a warrior, and Johnny come down to Hilo.

The drunken sailor in the first movement is brilliantly portrayed in various stages of intoxication. He chases his pigtails in a canon at the minor third, develops hiccoughs, finds himself in a state of remorse, on the shores of South America, dancing the tango to a minor key; but eventually he pulls himself together and reports for duty, presto ben marcato. ‘Boney was a warrior’ heads the second movement and, by taking ‘was’ as the operative word, the composer makes this the contrasting movement. The last shanty is based on ‘Johnny come down to Hilo’ and is bursting with humour and boisterousness. The writing for the instruments is brightly coloured throughout. In this type of work Arnold is at his best. [Chester-Novello Music Co.]